Dog Behaviour Advice - Dog Advice Articles
Aims and Objectives
I often hear people saying dog training is easy so why do we need to go to obedience clubs. We do not want to walk down the street as if we are in a competition. We have trained dogs for thousand of years and most are reasonably well behaved. I quite agree but why do we still see so many dogs failing to behave. We see dogs prepared to fight other dogs or cats or frighten humans go to the toilet anywhere, fight under the tables at bars and restaurants and always taking their owners for walks. We see so many variations of dog leads to even using tracking harnesses and we also see the infinity lead where the owner is on one side the street whilst the dog is on the other. The closest thing I have had to this was a tape measure that when you pressed the button it retracted and if I was not careful received a nasty cut. Do these leads have the same facility so a press of the button and zip the dog is back in your hand?
What are we trying to achieve and what should it look like? I entered a house one day and faced a monumental tip but the owner believed all people lived in the same fashion. Simply he had never seen a tidy house. It therefore follows if you have not seen something better, you must assume yours is the norm. With the influx of so many people into Spain who have seen better standards of sociable dogs, the demand now follows for owners to improve their dogs to conform to our new standards. There are now, and quite rightly, bylaws for no fowling the street, owners must keep dogs on leads and dogs no longer allowed in many more restaurants. There is no sign that you can walk the street with a loaded gun we just know if you did that the police would arrest you and yet there are dog owners doing precisely that. They may or may not be aware of the danger their dog is to other members of society but any dog that growls at a human and in particular, a child is a potential lethal gun. The question is how to improve the situation to reach the standard that we would all like to see. We have solved part of this as with the untidy man we know and have seen what tidy looks like. The only next step is how to achieve it.
For better sociable dogs, must we all attend obedience classes? No. Whilst most Police dogs and civilian dog handlers always attended their local Canine Road Safety training classes this was in part public relations but most importantly sociability training. Where else could we practice with uncontrolled dogs? Part of any dog training classes requires the dogs becoming sociable with other people and other dogs. Here they learn a degree of general obedience training that most people would use in their daily lives. How to teach a dog to walk by your side without pulling on the lead. To sit or to go down or to stay and drop down if say a car was coming. To be friendly to other people and not to attack anything that moves. Improving sociability in dogs is now very important and why all obedience clubs in the UK include a general sociability class. One thing we must understand that in such classes the instructor teaches the handler to teach their dog. They do not teach the dog. In Australia, unless you have attended a socialisation class and achieved the required standard you cannot let your dog off the lead in a public place. I love the country already. We all owe it to each other to obtain a reasonable standard of sociability but how to set about achieving it.
You do not need to attend formal training classes to make dogs sociable. Dogs are naturally sociable if you teach them who to be sociable with but errors do occur in the way we teach them and then things can go so terribly wrong. Most dogs are easily trained and very sociable being quite happy with their place in life at being fed and having to do nothing at all but being the usual lovable pet. It is a dog’s life. The remainder in varying degrees do cause problems where classes can stop ant-social behaviour. You could simply form groups of people who all go for walks on certain days or have a barbeque evening for all dog owners. What this does is bring all the dogs together and where they must become friendly with one another and other people. You are making it possible for dogs to be unsociable but being alert to any such signs you can nip such tendencies in the bud. If a dog does something right like not attacking the nearest dog give it a piece of burger and it will soon understand and look forward to such meetings. You may encounter some jostling between the dogs as they set their position in the hierarchy of the increasing size of the pack so do not jump in too soon as this is usually harmless. You may notice that size to dogs does not matter. A little dog will stand up against a big dog if it has to. An advantage by such meetings is the owners need not feel embarrassed when their dogs show bad behaviour because you are all together attempting to cure such problems. If you do have a dog that is becoming anti-social then the worst thing is go home and keep your dog away from people as this only make matters worse. Do not feel ashamed to admit your dog may have a problem we have all been there and there is usually a simple remedy. It is a very good idea to take your dogs to each other’s houses and make them behave. If you have a dog that objects to people entering your home then he is on the receiving end if it has to go to some one else’s home. One other important point is when you see a holiday maker and it maybe their only time in your area then introduce yourself and your dog to them. As far as the dog is concerned, this is a new stranger and could be barked at or even attacked. If your dog is keen on jumping up to greet the person, tell them to avert their eyes from the dog and remain sideways on to your dog. This tells your dog you are in control of the meeting now and stand down.
You may have noticed I have not said anything about anti-attack dog-training classes and that is because none exist. There is no need because a sociable dog does not need to attack. Sociability classes or groups or whatever sort that brings dogs and handlers together takes care of dogs that were showing attack tendencies. All ages of dogs can attend such classes and yes, you can teach old dogs new tricks.
Most people believe in order to train a dog successfully you need endless patience, perseverance and slow to temper plus a pocket of tit bits. The answer to these is NO. You do not even need a dog. I do not train anybody’s dogs except my own. Reading my articles you could help your next-door neighbour whose dog keeps barking or whatever how to cure it. A simple experiment for you to try when you meet someone’s dog is just lick the palm of your hand and offer it to the dog to smell then look away so no further eye-to-eye contact. Do not bend or stoop down. It will stop barking and jumping up and probably walk away content with the introduction. Another useful tip is how to stop dogs jumping up and licking your face. This is in fact a normal ritual greeting of subordinate dogs and wolves to their recognised leader to seek attention but not exactly hygienic. Simply tell the owner they do this after they have licked their own bums. That one never fails. The correct way is to avert your eye-to-eye contact and turn sideways showing a dismissive body stance to the licking dog. After a while, they do get the message.
In this first article, I have simply restated the aims and objectives we all are seeking and assure you that they are easy to achieve. Men and dogs have worked together for a long time for mutual benefit but man has evolved far beyond his basic brain the dogs have not. Mans greatest leap in evolution was to read and write and so pass on to the future the failures and successes of the past. This saved us reinventing the wheel in each generation. If I wish to teach my dog drug detection and having little patience myself, I simply read the foremost writer on the subject and follow the accepted guidelines.
Next week I will introduce you to understanding what a dog is thinking to help you train them in the basics and the dogs most important and simple question to everything, if I do this what is in it for me.